Missionaries from Marawi
“The Philippines will be a missionary-sending nation.” This has been prophesied over us by many prophetic people for how many years now.
God’s purposeful promise for our nation seemed impossible to me until God brought me to Marawi. It’s been almost 5 years since the bloodiest siege occurred in Marawi, but even then, I saw God’s hand actively involved in fulfilling that promise. Even before the siege, God raised up a powerful prayer and missions movement inside a university in Marawi. Young people constantly cried out for the unreached, day and night, and they were passionate about reaching the lost, particularly the unreached people group that was nearest to them—the sons of Ishmael.
This prayer movement eventually became the Jesus The Great Shepherd Fellowship Inc. (GS), and they hosted us on our visit to Marawi in 2019. As a prayer movement, they have a very missional mindset to reach Unreached People Groups (UPGs), including the nearest ones, the Muslims. I spent time with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and listened to them.They expressed and reiterated missionary work to their people in everything they did. I learned from their stories and testimonies.
The Entrance Landmark of the Islamic City of Marawi
Star at Mindanao State University (MSU) Field, Marawi City.
Star at Ground Zero of the Marawi Siege
I couldn’t hold back my tears. These students faced cruel persecution. Some of these prayer warriors were disowned by their families and were rejected by their own communities, but they suffered gladly because of Jesus. Some of them were Muslims who converted to Christianity, while others were persecuted by their families for choosing to be missionaries instead of their expected professions. I met people who had brilliant minds—students who graduated with high honor; some were cum laudes, others were summa cum laudes, and there even was a magna cum laude. They had great opportunities and a bright future, but they chose the path less taken—missions. No, it was not an easy thing they did. They shed tears as they shared their stories, but I didn’t see any regret in them. What I saw was love that overcame their fears. Jesus was in the lives of these people.
Today, the GS ministry supports 200 missionaries, more or less, to local and international Unreached People Groups or UPGs. The UPGs are the groups of people whom the Gospel hasn’t reached yet. These are the ones who have a great need for missionaries to go to their place of living. The GS also adopts other missionaries from other churches who need help. They also provide training and seminars for aspiring missionaries who are called to cross-cultural missions. When GS started, they were just so focused with missions, but they realized the need to plant churches to sustain the current missionaries, and to produce more missionaries in the near future. The GS family reaches out actively to our Muslim countrymen.
Changed by the People of Marawi
That trip to Marawi led me to repent from being judgemental and negative towards the Muslim people. My perspective of the locals changed. As I walked through their crowded streets, I felt the heart of the Father for them. My friends and I went for a stroll in the center of the city where we had a taste of their delicacies. The locals were so kind and hospitable to us, but beyond that, I saw a group of people who followed a god that was distant and far away from them.
The Mindanao Forerunners with the GS Family, praying over the city of Marawi at Ground Zero
God, our Abba Father, wants to be a Father to them too. Just like us, they need Isa Almasi (Jesus Christ).
The goal of missions is to preach the Gospel and in doing so, to reach the unreached people. It is not about converting every single person on earth, but it is about proclaiming the Good News to every people, tribe, and tongue. It is giving people the chance to turn to God through Jesus Christ and to have even just one representative from their own race and nation worship Jesus.
The Mindanao Forerunners with GS Family leaders in Marawi City
The Call to Missions
In our current generation, many Christians seek comfort, convenience, and prosperity, while avoiding sufferings. Right now, following Jesus only means going to church on Sundays, singing, and clapping our hands without compassion for the lost.
The challenge Christians must embrace now is this: how are we going to pass the passion for missions and the heart for the Ishmaelites, our Muslim countrymen, to the next generation? Missionary work entails sacrifice. It is laying our lives down for the cause of Christ. It requires leaving our plans, family, dreams, and comfort for the sake of the Gospel. Some may even lose their lives for this passion.
But Jesus is worth it all.
The Holy Spirit is stirring up the Church today to hear the heart of the Father towards the sons of Ishmael. Let us carry God’s heart for them and say, “Ishmael, Come Home!”